The Special Exhibitions Gallery

Radio Contact:
Tuning in to Politics, Technology, & Culture

Radio Contact: Tuning In to a World of Politics, Culture, and Entertainment

Remember the times when the whole family gathered round the living room radio to listen to Roosevelt's fireside chats or detective dramas like The Shadow? When boys (and sometimes girls) tinkered with ham radio in garages in order to talk to people across the country?  When commercial, underground, and political networks broadcast to a fragmented society, giving voice to diverse ideas and music, which anyone could sample?

  • Radio_Contact_west_case
  • Radio Contact: Amateur Radio Literature
  • Radio_Contact_studio
  • Radio Contact: Aerial Antenna
  • Radio Contact: Central Case

Radio Contact explores those times then and now.  Showcasing radio equipment from the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, the exhibition examines the evolving technology and cultures of listening, tinkering, and broadcasting.  Radio introduced millions to jazz, the comedic brio of Abbott and Costello, the iconic voice of newsman Edward R. Murrow, and the shock therapy of talk radio. Come and tune in to a radio culture and history that is still vibrant and yet being redefined on the Internet. 

Radio Contact In the Media >>>

Spinning the Radio Dial at Harvard, The Boston Globe, 5/26/2016
Tuning In: The Intersection of Art & Science Through Radio
, Leeds Beckett University, Media Centre, 4/21/2016
Before Social Media, Harvard Magazine, May/June 2016
New Harvard Exhibit Narrates the Story of Boston Radio, BostonMagazine.com, 3/10/2016
Exhibit on the Influence of the Radio Opens Friday, The Harvard Crimson, 3/10/2016

American Radio Ads from the 1930s through the 60s

As "recreational" radio broadcasting grew in popularity at the beginning of the 20th century, its production became increasingly expensive. In order to keep up with the financial implications of running a radio station, broadcasters hit upon the idea of selling "toll broadcasting" to advertisers. Businesses would underwrite or finance a broadcast, in exchange for them (or their products) being mentioned on the radio.

Featured: Carolina Rice (00:01), Wheaties Cereal (00:44), Motts Apple Sauce (01:17), Banquet Frozen Foods (02:18), Southern Bread (03:18), Bubble Up Soda (04:25), Rice Krispies Cereal (05:32), Jello Chocolate Pudding Mix (06:31)

Radio Contact on SoundCloudListen to "Radio Contact:
Sounds, Stories, & Perspectives from the Boston Airwaves
"
STN LogoListen to
"Sit'N Listen! Episode 8: Discovering Sex and Gender?"
Broadcast from Radio Contact 5/11/2016

Acknowledgements

CURATORS

Sara J. Schechner, David P. Wheatland Curator, CHSI
Devin Kennedy, Wheatland Curatorial Fellow
Mia Metivier, Curatorial and Exhibition Intern

EXHIBITION DESIGN

Samantha van Gerbig, Designer & Photographer

 


SOUNDSCAPE DESIGN & CREATION

Halsey Burgund, Sound Artist
Brandon Stafford & Michael Grasso

Sounds, Stories, and Perspectives from the Boston Airwaves
Ian Coss, Producer and Editor

SUPPORT GENEROUSLY PROVIDED BY

David P. Wheatland Charitable Trust
Harvard Museums of Science & Culture
Anonymous Donor